Brooke school board discusses threat, relay request

WELLSBURG – The president of the Brooke County Board of Education took time during Monday’s meeting to comment on the threat that led to an evacuation of Brooke High School on April 15.

School officials called for the school to be evacuated at about 12:30 p.m. after a handwritten threat was found in a restroom at the school at about 11 a.m. As a precaution, the high school students were bused home and parents of children in the pre-school there were called to pick them up.

Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson said the threat was found to be unsubstantiated but he respected school officials’ concerns. He noted the threat occurred within a few days of the Boston Marathon attacks and a bomb scare that led to an evacuation of the Robinson Township, Pa. shopping mall.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said Monday the person responsible for the threat hasn’t been identified but he hopes those who would make such threats in the future will consider the potential consequences for others as well as themselves.

“Not only do these actions disrupt the schools but cause serious safety risks to our students and staff. We have handicapped children and adults, small children and others who struggle with these events,” Piccirillo said.

He continued, “I can assure you we will investigate every threat and take severe action, including expulsion and prosecution, to any student or person involved, including those who know who is causing these offenses. We urge parents to explain this to their children and understand the consequences.”

Also on Monday, organizers of the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life asked the board for use of the Follansbee Middle School football field for this year’s event, which will be held June 1 and 2.

Dave Secrist, the event’s chairman, said he and other Relay organizers want to move the annual event from Brooke Memorial Stadium to the middle school because it would be easier to relocate participants to the middle school’s field house in the event of an emergency, such as a storm.

Earlier he said plans also call for Relay teams to pitch their tents along the walking track, which he said brings participants closer together for the festivities, which include entertainment and games enjoyed by participants during and between their laps around the field.

He also asked the board to declare May 1 through June 2 as Relay for Life Days and invited schools to decorate their building or grounds with bows and banners as part of the group’s Paint the Panhandle Purple campaign to promote the event.

Secrist and Relay co-chairs Paul and Tammy Hornick also presented an award to the school district in recognition of its overall support last year of Relay for Life, through mini relays and other fundraisers held at schools to school teams participating in the event itself.

Secrist said the school district’s support helped last year’s event to raise more than $96,000 for cancer research, prevention, education and patient services supported by the American Cancer Society nationwide.

In other business:

The board approved a settlement with Christopher Moore, a social studies teacher at Brooke High School, who filed a grievance against it. The move was supported by board members Brian Ferguson, Jim Lazear and Chad Haught and opposed by Piccirillo, while board member Frank Ujcich abstained.

As with other settlements entered into by the board in recent months, Ferguson said the board is prohibited legally from commenting. Piccirillo would say he felt another option was available to the board in the matter but he supported his fellow board members’ decision.

Ferguson and Moore couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jim Hervey, the school district’s treasurer, noted the board met last week to approve levy rates, in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, for its general fund, five-year operating levy and a special levy approved in 2000 for the construction of the Brooke High School Wellness Center and improvements to all Brooke County schools.

Rates for the general fund and five-year levy are unchanged from last year. Levy rates for the five-year operating levy are: 22.95 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class I property; 45.9 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class II property; and 91.8 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class III and IV property.

Rates for the special levy have been lowered slightly to reflect increased assessed values. The bond issue also was refinanced last year and is expected to be repaid by May 2016. They are: 5.09 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class I property; 10.18 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class II property; and 20.36 cents per $100 of assessed property for Class III and IV property.

Approved the hirings of Stacey Conley as a fifth grade teacher at Follansbee Middle School, James Corbin and Norman Kidd as custodians at the high school, Joyce Tennant as a custodian at Wellsburg Primary School and the board’s office, Lindsey Utz as a substitute aide, Jaron Williams as a substitute custodian and Guy Jackson as a substitute driver for the child nutrition program.

It also approved the retirements of Clark Beaman, a custodian at Colliers Primary School and the former Edgewood Primary School prior to that; and Sharon Ewusiak, a cook at Brooke High School.

Announced its next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 13 at Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School.

(Scott can be contacted at